Congressman Matt Gaetz has attracted a lot of attention online after a video of him singing karaoke at a party was posted on social media. The clip was initially posted on Instagram by a friend of the Florida Republican but it picked up steam after other commenters spread it on Twitter.
Critics blasted Gaetz for gathering indoors with several other people even as the coronavirus pandemic continues. No one in the video was wearing a mask. Retired professional basketball player Rex Chapman was among those who slammed Gaetz for the indoor gathering and shared a version of the clip that has been viewed more than a million times.
Gaetz defended himself as the video went viral. He tweeted that since he tested positive for antibodies, he poses “no risk to anyone.”
Gaetz also jokingly remarked on his singing by writing, “Not my worst rendition of Wagon Wheel.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Gaetz Says He Won’t Get the Coronavirus Vaccine & Insisted He Doesn’t Pose a Risk to Others Because He Tested Positive for Antibodies
I didn’t get vaccinated and have no plans to be.
Having relatively recently tested positive for antibodies, I’m no risk to anyone.
Not my worst rendition of Wagon Wheel. https://t.co/zyMl0Ut9Oj
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) December 22, 2020
The video of Gaetz singing “Wagon Wheel” at a karaoke party originated on Instagram. @bethanym25, whose account is private, wrote that the Saturday night gathering included “champagne, good friends, new friends” and sending Christmas wishes to the president.
Comedian Anthony Walker shared a screen capture video of the clip to Twitter on December 22 and wrote, “Here’s @mattgaetz on Saturday night pretending COVID doesn’t exist and living his best life while people are dying and losing their homes.” He also claimed Gaetz had received the vaccine “ahead of doctors and nurses.”
Gaetz responded within 90 minutes. He shared Walker’s post and responded that he had not received a COVID-19 vaccine and had no plans to do so. He also defended his decision to be around other people without a mask. “Having relatively recently tested positive for antibodies, I’m no risk to anyone.”
Gaetz shared in early November that he had tested positive for antibodies, although he had never experienced any coronavirus symptoms, WEAR-TV reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the presence of antibodies indicates that a patient was infected with the virus at some point but “does not mean they are currently infected.”
Testing positive for antibodies does not necessarily mean the patient is in the clear. The CDC has cautioned on its website that “we don’t have enough information yet to say how protected someone might be from being infected again if they have antibodies to the virus.”
A Former Congressional Candidate in Florida Is Pushing for Gaetz to Lose His Law License for Supporting President Trump’s Efforts to Overturn the Election
As the video of Gaetz singing “Wagon Wheel” circulates on social media, some Twitter users have also referenced a petition filed against him that has to do with his support for President Trump.
Gaetz is among the Republican lawmakers who have publicly indicated that they plan to challenge the results of the Electoral College when the votes are tallied on Capitol Hill on January 6. According to CBS News, President Trump met with a group of lawmakers on December 21 to discuss this possibility. The network reported that the people at the meeting included Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona.
Gaetz is taking some heat for this stance in his home state. The Hill reported that a former congressional candidate in Florida, Pamela Keith, has filed a petition asking that Gaetz be stripped of his law license and cited his support for the president’s legal challenges as the reason. As of this writing, the petition had garnered about 7,400 signatures.
In the online petition, Keith accused Gaetz of betraying and attacking the Constitution by refusing to acknowledge the results of the presidential election. She also accused him of inciting rebellion. Keith wrote in part, “Mr. Gaetz’s latest transgression is one that truly warrants loss of the right to practice law in the State of Florida. In this latest episode, Mr. Gaetz willingly participated in an act of sedition, and an illegal and immoral effort to disenfranchise millions of American voters. I ask that the Bar fully investigate Mr. Gaetz’s actions, whether or not they believe themselves to have authority to discipline him at this time, and that the Bar publish its findings with respect to Mr. Gaetz’s actions and choices. I maintain that no lawyer should act in furtherance of sedition or destruction of the Constitution of the United States.”
Gaetz has not commented on the complaint since Keith filed it. But he did tweet at her on December 13 after she wrote that she had planned to do so. Gaetz wrote that he had never lost an election and suggested Keith was just upset she had lost her election.
According to the Florida Bar, Gaetz has been eligible to practice law in Florida since 2008. He earned his degree from William & Mary Law School.